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Whalers told to leave Australian waters

Last updated 02:51 01/02/2013

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A Japanese whaling fleet ship is again being warned out of Australian waters, aggravating a diplomatic dispute with Tokyo.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said on Thursday night that the government had confirmation the Shonan Maru No. 2 entered Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone near Tasmania's sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

Mr Burke said the government "strongly objected" to the passage of the Shonan Maru No. 2 through Australian waters, where domestic laws ban whaling.

"Australia has made it clear to Japan on a number of occasions that vessels associated with its whaling programme are not welcome in Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone or Territorial Sea," Mr Burke said.
"Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese Government."

Last summer vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet made repeated incursions into Australian waters, off Perth and Macquarie Island.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney General Nicola Roxon said then that Japan was repeatedly asked to desist.

The Shonan Maru No. 2 is in pursuit of the Sea Shepherd long range vessel Bob Barker, which on Tuesday caught up with the key factory ship, Nisshin Maru, far south of Macquarie Island.

The Nisshin Maru later escaped the tail in rough weather by out-running the Bob Barker, according to Sea Shepherd.

But the group's Australian chairman,  Bob Brown, claimed early success in this year's conflict over whaling.

"The fleet is quite scattered, which is very satisfactory as far as Sea Shepherd is concerned," said Dr Brown, the former Australian Greens leader.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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